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A KIND-OF BONUS ALBUM

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I had this post slated for later on in the month but have brought it forward to dovetail with yesterday’s high-quality contribution from Martin.

I’m just about to bring the series on the singles by The Undertones to a close and one of the other bands I had in mind for a similar series was Radiohead; the problem however, is that I haven’t bought any singles by the band since about 2003 and so would have been forced to spend a fair bit of money pulling together all the subsequent b-sides since that period in time; instead I’ve hit on the idea of cobbling together the various b-sides from a particular era to offer a suggested accompanying bonus album to that from which they were lifted.

It makes sense to start with OK Computer, from which three singles were lifted.  I say makes sense in as much that a number of these b-sides have already appeared on the blog thanks to a posting looking solely at Paranoid Android.

Much of the music and sounds making up these tracksare well worth a listen given that they show different sides to the band and are something of a pointer as to the road they would go down a few years later with Kid A and Amnesiac.

mp3 : Radiohead – The OK Computer bonus album

Tracklist

1. Climbing Up The Walls (Zero 7 mix) – from Karma Police single #2
2. Pearly – from Paranoid Android single #1
3. Airbag (live in Berlin) – from No Surprises single #2
4. Melatonin – from Paranoid Android single #2
5. Meeting In The Aisle – from Karma Police single #1
6. Polyethylene (Parts 1 & 2) – from Paranoid Android single #2
7. Climbing Up The Walls (Fila Brazillia Mix) – from Karma Police single #2
8. Lull – from Karma Police single #1
9. Lucky (live in Florence) – from No Surprises single #2
10. How I Made My Millions – from No Surprises single #1
11. Palo Alto – from No Surprises single #1
12. A Reminder – from Karma Police single #1

Enjoy.

I may or may nor repeat this for other Radiohead LPs. It’s up to you guys to offer advise on whether that’s a good idea or not. I won’t be offended if you tell me to make this a one-off.

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #108 : RADIOHEAD

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A GUEST POSTING FROM MARTIN

AUTHOR OF THE NEW AMUSEMENTS BLOG

After more than 100 ICAs, I was wondering which artist or band I could meaningfully submit a compilation for. So many of my favourites have already been done. And then it occurred to me – as yet, there has been no ICA for Radiohead.

Of course, when I sat down to try to draw up a ten track compilation it quickly became obvious why it hasn’t been done before: trying to whittle down the collected works of the Grand Old Duke of Yorke and his men to just ten songs, just one side of a C90, is practically impossible. Unless…

…unless there’s a scheme, a set of rules above and beyond those that normally go into drafting a compilation. It was at this point I realised that Radiohead have released nine studio albums. What if, I wondered, I were to limit myself to one track per album, plus a bonus closing track of my choice? That might work and, if I stuck to the albums in chronological order, it would also provide an accurate representation of how the band has progressed over the years.

Sounds a great plan, doesn’t it? Except that, in reality, even choosing just one track per album proved to be fantastically difficult (especially for The Bends, Ok Computer, Hail To The Thief and In Rainbows). Anyway, enough of my excuses, let’s get on; to assuage my guilt for omitting certain tracks, I’ll namecheck the other songs that were in contention but, for now, these are the chosen nine plus one.

Side One

1. from Pablo Honey: Creep

Sorry, it has to be. I know it’s been over-played, and certainly over-covered (if YouTube is anything to go by). It isn’t massively representative of the rest of the album, and I have even heard it described as “Radiohead for people who don’t like Radiohead”. But, and it’s a very big but, without this track there is probably a very good chance we wouldn’t be talking about Radiohead now, and certainly not in such reverential tones. The fact is that this song, aside from striking a chord with every disaffected and alienated person that’s ever heard it, every loner, every outsider, aside from all that it established the band in a way that the parent album never could. It’s quite possible that without Creep the only blog posts you’d read about Radiohead now would be of the “whatever happened to…” variety. And on top of that, it has that excellent crunchy guitar that kicks in at the start of the chorus.

Also in contention: Anyone Can Play Guitar and Lurgee.

2. from The Bends: Fake Plastic Trees

Of all the albums, choosing just one track from The Bends was the toughest choice of all. Fake Plastic Trees gets the nod though, as it brought Radiohead’s social conscious and environmental awareness to the fore, whilst also demonstrating that they could be musically subtle, delicate in a way that they hadn’t been on Pablo Honey. The clincher for me is more personal though, in that when I saw the band live in 2008 their rendition of this song gave me goosebumps on the night, and nearly broke my heart in the weeks that followed.

Also in contention: High And Dry, (Nice Dream) and Street Spirit (Fade Out).

3. from OK Computer: No Surprises

A lullaby for the suicidal, perhaps. And yet one that somehow manages to be uplifting, even in the unsettling video in which Thom looks set to drown (spoiler – he doesn’t). You can draw a straight line through Asleep by The Smiths to this song, and then… where? The parent album was, for a time, often held up as not just the band’s best but the best ever, by anyone, frequently troubling the top of the “best N albums of all time” lists that were very popular around the millennium. It is great, but I think The Bends shades it.

Also in contention: Paranoid Android (“Bohemian Rhapsody for Generation X”, as the music press all cried at the time), Karma Police and Lucky.

4. from Kid A: National Anthem

Given that The Bends are OK Computer were both excellent and successful, Kid A was always going to be a tough act to pull off. It remains the point at which Radiohead started to be non-essential, for some people. Not me though. It’s a great album, another where it is hard to choose one track. I’ve gone for National Anthem – very simple lyrically, but the music is the hook, an ear-worming loop that has, arguably, set the tone for most of everything that has followed. Like lots of the best Radiohead, this comes into its own in a car with a good stereo, in the small hours of a crystal clear night, on an open road…

Also in contention: Idioteque, Everything In Its Right Place.

5. from Amnesiac: Knives Out

As the band continued to push boundaries, willing to sacrifice transient fans to satisfy their own musical curiosity, the songs that were chosen as singles from each album became increasingly unrepresentative, and so it is with Knives Out. Led by twin guitar melodies, it’s a song that might have graced The Bends. It has brilliantly bleak lyrics too, to whit “If you’d been a dog they would have drowned you at birth.” I don’t know what it says about Radiohead (or the type of fan I am) but this and Pablo Honey were the albums it was easiest to choose only one song from.

Also in contention: Pyramid Song.

Side Two

6. from Hail To The Thief: Scatterbrain

On the face of it, a tough album to choose from, casually littered with brilliance as it is. In reality, an easy choice for me; the instrumental introduction to Scatterbrain has been my mobile phone ringtone for as long as I can remember. It is one of my absolute favourites songs, not just by Radiohead but by anybody, ever. Terrific lyrical story telling too, in which storm force winds are a metaphor for the blown apart nature of a failed relationship.

Also in contention: Go To Sleep, 2+2=5, Myxomatosis.

7. from In Rainbows: Weird Fishes/Arpeggi

That straight line I mentioned earlier? Maybe its third point is here, I don’t know. For a band who have increasingly forsaken guitars (to the consternation of a good proportion of their fanbase), here’s proof that they can still overlay complementary guitar motifs better than just about anyone. And few bands give percussion a voice, rather than just rhythm and timekeeping duties, as well as Radiohead. Also, even fewer songs could hint at escape at the end and yet be so ambiguous as to whether that escape is a good thing or not.

Also in contention: Reckoner, Jigsaw Falling Into Place.

8. from The King Of Limbs: Morning Mr Magpie

The intro to this makes me think of The Police. No, wait, come back! Here’s a song that again sits at the accessible end of the recent Radiohead spectrum, and ends with the lament that “you’ve stolen all the magic, took my melody”. A proportion of the band’s fans may have thought the same thing… but this is a perfect example of a Radiohead track that rewards repeated listens, rather than chases immediacy.

Also in contention: Little by Little (for similar reasons), Feral.

9. from A Moon Shaped Pool: Burn The Witch

In which Radiohead go all Camber-wicker Green. A genuinely great song and one that is, even without the video, genuinely disturbing, with its lyrics of low-flying panic attacks, red crosses on wooden doors and, most ominously, “we know where you live”. Add the sawing, minor-key string backing and this isn’t going to pack the floor at your local indie disco in quite the same way as Creep. A song for these times, where Washington has become Summer Isle or, perhaps, Salem.

Also in contention: Daydreaming, Present Tense.

10. bonus track: Street Spirit (Fade Out)

What better way to end the album? If ever a song was made to close an LP, this is it, lyrically, musically and thematically. Yes, it hankers back to a period when the band were at the peak of their commercial powers (doesn’t Thom look young in the video?) and yes, it features plenty of guitars. But not the crunchy guitars of Creep and Anyone Can Play Guitar, but beautiful, overlaid arpeggios that repeat, rise and fall to hypnotic effect. And there’s a lyrical counterpoint to some of the less cheerful themes found elsewhere on this ICA, and even in this song – for every row of houses bearing down on Thom, there’s the more positive (albeit slightly defensive) “be a world child, form a circle” and the haunting outro refrain of “immerse your soul in love”. Best of all is the way the song ends – it doesn’t fade out, of course, but the guitar arpeggio loops round and ties itself in a neat bow. The perfect finish to this or any compilation.

And there you have it. There are probably as many Radiohead ICA combinations as there are fans, and my own selection would probably be different next week (maybe even tomorrow). But, for now, I think this compilation works. What do you reckon?

Cheers,
Martin
New Amusements

ROCK, POP, INDIE MAGNIFICENCE

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skeleton300

Recollections of sitting alone in a cafe having a bite for lunch. One of the staff was mucking about on a laptop creating a mix of music for the patrons to enjoy or endure. All of a sudden, amidst the non-descript singer-songwriters with their whimsical ballads with a twist of indie-folk, this came blaring out:-

mp3 : Radiohead – Bones

It’s the fourth track on the 1995 LP The Bends. In some ways it is a sort of forgotten Radiohead classic. It is squeezed onto the album right after two hit singles – High And Dry and Fake Plastic Trees, and right before one of their best loved songs and then another hit – (Nice Dream) and Just. But there’s no way that Bones should ever be regarded as a filler track.

Great tune. Killer chorus. And an ambiguous enough lyric to spark a debate. Is it merely about growing old or is it about the physical pain that a mental breakdown brings? Who knows? And who really cares?? Just turn the volume up and enjoy the music. It’s rock, it’s pop, it’s indie all at once. It’s also magnificent.

Especially played live.

Enjoy

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (25)

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ORIGINALLY POSTED ON MONDAY 21 APRIL 2008

R-5075913-1433213885-9718.jpeg

So here we finally have something from probably the most talked-about band across cyberspace*

*(well they were back in 2008!!!).

I was very very lucky to see Radiohead at the outset of their career on two occasions – the first when they were complete unknowns in September 1992 as the support act to The Frank and Walters at The Venue in Edinburgh. Just over a year later, having had success in the USA with Creep, they were given the support slot with James and this time it was Glasgow Barrowlands just before Xmas 1993.

I’d be a liar if I said that on the basis of those two gigs I could have predicted that world domination would soon be theirs. In fact, I’d go as far to say that having bought debut album Pablo Honey on the back of the 1992 gig and been a bit disappointed with it, I wasn’t all that looking forward to seeing them support James. But that night, they gave a pretty decent performance, and a bit of hope that they were going to be more than one-hit wonders.

Problem was, the band seemed to disappear from view thereafter as the UK went barmy for Britpop. As we now know, it was in fact to begin the long and drawn-out process to write and record songs for their second LP, on which work began in early 1994 but which wasn’t released until May 1995.

And its my considered opinion that The Bends might just be the best LP of all time…..its certainly the one I’ve listened to more than any other over the past 13 years (up to 2008!!!!). Yup, I much prefer it to the more-critically lauded OK Computer.

Part of this is down to the existence of the song that has made #25.

You can scour the internet and see that the song is pretty special to a lot of people, but there’s a bit of argument as to what exactly it is about. What can’t be denied is that Thom Yorke delivers an incredibly intense and moving vocal while the boys in the band deliver a haunting and memorable tune and melody.

It is clearly about something that is far from natural – the constant use of words like rubber, plastic and polystyrene only help emphasise that point. But is it about an artificial feeling of love that the protagonist has for someone, or does it have a deeper meaning? Is it indeed the template for Radiohead’s manifesto for the future in which their disgust about the way the planet is being treated would come to dominate how their songs sounded as well as the band’s philosophy and outlook on things?

I’m not entirely sure, and I’ve said previously, I tend not to delve too deep into the meaning of lyrics. They are important, but no more so than the music.

I know that many of you will disagree that this in fact the finest single ever released by Radiohead. While I had a bit of a debate with myself about which song to select for certain bands, this one was, as the cliché goes, a no-brainer. This is a song that can provoke so many emotions in me, depending on my mood and state of mind, and there’s not many others that I can say that about.

mp3 : Radiohead – Fake Plastic Trees
mp3 : Radiohead – India Rubber
mp3 : Radiohead – How Can You Be Sure?

Surprisingly, the single only reached #20 in the UK charts, and it was later single Street Spirit (Fade Out) that was the big seller.

IS THIS THE REAL LIFE OR IS THIS JUST FANTASY?

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Paranoid_Android_CD1
It’s been some week in blogworld.  I’m one of those who, due to pressures of time, put quite a few posts together well in advance so that I can do my best to offer up daily postings and then something totally unexpected and mind-blowing such as the death of David Bowie changes everything. Just want to say a big thank you to everyone for dropping by, for reading what was said in the two postings and also for reading the other things that were put up as I tried to keep some semblance of order.

I had a wee think about what sort of good thing musically might have, if I’d been a blogger back at the time, led me to drop everything and want to ask ‘did you see or hear that???’  There’s been plenty but most have been where I’ve found something new or a particular favourite have come up with something astounding.  Amd then I thought I’d go with this…..

I don’t reckon I’m alone with my first exposure to Paranoid Android being when Radiohead appeared on the late-night BBC music programme Later, presented by Jools Holland, in May 1997. The person who would years later post the clip on YouTube said it was one of the greatest performances ever to grace the stage of that show. And they’re not wrong:

It was something totally unexpected. Yes, the band had released a cracking LP in The Bends a couple of years previously that had brought them to the attention of the wider public and also got them positive reviews from the rock meeja. But this was something else entirely…..

The single had in fact been released a few days before the TV performance and had been aired a fair bit within the various early-evening shows on Radio 1 and was already being described by some journalists/broadcasters as the Bohemian Rhapsody of the 90s. But to me that’s just a lazy description based on the fact that the song has different and distinct sections and at more than six minutes in length is not anything like your average single.

Paranoid Android is a strange, complex and twisted bit of music that really shouldn’t work, but somehow it does.

Maybe its the fact that we’re all lulled into a false sense of security with its opening of acoustic guitars over Thom Yorke‘s high-pitched vocal. And for about three minutes we can sing along, tap our feet and move our head of work from side to side enjoying a song that is that is not all that indistinguishable from other admittedly top-quality indie pop/rock.

But then it gets all strange as Jonny Greenwood batters the shit out of his guitar before it suddenly comes not quite to a halt but to the pace of a real tear-jerking ballad except instead it sounds like a hymn at which point Thom Yorke comes back in with a pleading vocal that seems to challenge his God to take out his anger on him. Then, just when you thought that would be it…there’s about 45 seconds or so of a guitar solo and backing music that wouldn’t have been out of place on a heavy metal album from 15 years or so earlier….certainly something that air guitarists would get awfully excited about.

As I said, it shouldn’t work, but it does.

It reached #3 in the UK singles charts on its release and remains the biggest hit 45 Radiohead have ever enjoyed. There were two CD singles available to buy, and the b-sides are well worth a listen as they show different sides to the band, but they wont be everyone’s cup of tea. In fact some of you might find them downright irritating.  But in a week when we celebrated the diversity of Mr Bowie’s musical output it seems appropriate to head into the weekend with these :-

mp3: Radiohead – Paranoid Android
mp3: Radiohead – Polyethylene (Parts 1 & 2)
mp3: Radiohead – Pearly
mp3: Radiohead – A Reminder
mp3: Radiohead – Melatonin

Enjoy

 

FROM THE SOUTH-WEST CORRESPONDENT..WHAT’S IN YOUR BOX (22)

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The Shoebox of Delights – The Robster Picked Number 18
‘Nowhere’ Original Soundtrack – Various Artists

220px-Nowhere

Soundtracks. I rarely buy them, in fact I own two. This one, which I didn’t buy, and Trainspotting which was a gift at Christmas. The problem with soundtracks is that you never get one that is 100% full of good tracks. You get the odd track, the odd unreleased gem, the odd hard to find song, but you wouldn’t buy the whole thing because it also contains Celine Dion, Phil Collins or Mumford and Sons.

Nowhere is no different. It contains some excellent music but it contains some utter utter shite as well. Believe me no compilation album with Marilyn Manson on it is worth buying.

Nowhere is a Gregg Araki film about the Doomed Generation or something – here is a snippet from the press stuff around the film

“A group of teenagers try to sort out their lives and emotions while bizarre experiences happen to each one, including alien abductions, bad acid trips, bisexual experiences, suicides, bizarre deaths, and a rape by a TV star. All of this happens before “the greatest party of the year”.

Now bearing in mind my favourite film of all time is Raiders of the Lost Ark followed by Back To the Future II – this isn’t my type of film but it does have a pretty good soundtrack (Marilyn Manson, 311, Coco and the Bean and Catherine Wheel withstanding)

Going off topic slightly I was once on a training course and we did this stupid ‘icebreaking’ thing where you had to name your favourite food, favourite album, favourite film and fantasy dinner party guest to a bunch of strangers. Anyway, I was sat on a table with four chaps, one I can only describe as a ‘hipster twat’ and when it was his turn to talk about his favourite film (this was after I said mine and the chap next to me, said ‘I don’t know, probably Jaws’) said this “I guess, I’m kinda leftfield, my film would be something by Russian avant garde agent provocateur Alexandr Soukurov”. That is what he said. Hope he’s reading this and if so – your beard looked crap and from the look of it your tattooist has put the Sanskrit word for ‘Knobjockey’ on your left arm.

Anyway, the soundtrack, let’s talk about the good stuff, the best track on it by far is by Chuck D ‘Generation Wrekked’ angry, shouty hip hop at its best by the guy who does it better than anyone else on the planet. There are some other gems ‘How Can You Be Sure?’ by Radiohead – which I think features on the B side on ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ but dates back to when they weren’t even called Radiohead (thanks Badgerman, for that snippet of information, he really is a walking Radiohead encyclopaedia). You get an Elastica track ‘In the City’ which I think is only available on a BBC Radio Sessions, and at just over 90 seconds, it is exactly what you expect from Elastica snotty, ferocious and bratty. There is also ‘Dicknail’ by Hole, which is them at their rawest, angriest and ultimately best. It’s a downright nasty song but its also great.

mp3 : Chuck D – Generation Wrekked
mp3 : Radiohead – How Can You Be Sure
mp3 : Elastica – In The City
mp3 : Hole – Dicknail

There are a couple of tracks which are not rare, ‘Life Is Sweet’ by the Chemical Brothers is here (given the Daft Punk remix treatment) in all its eight minute glory and ‘Trash’ by Suede – or The London Suede as the album calls them. Both are excellent – the Suede track ends the album and rather lifts the gloom from the Americanised College rock that precedes it.

You also get a few tracks by decent bands who recorded them specifically for this album – there are two of these that stand out ‘Nowhere’ by Curve, which is possibly one of the best tracks that they have ever produced. They sound sinister, angry and Toni Halliday vocal is more menacing than ever on it. The other one is ‘I Have the Moon’ by the much missed and loved Lush – and this may be the albums highpoint, a tremendously dreamy gorgeous song that is relaxing and a genuine chill down the spine moment.

mp3 : Lush – I Have The Moon

You also get a rare James track (saying that I gave up on James after ‘Whiplash’ so it might not be that rare) called ‘Thursday Treatments’ which is an instrumental track. Its bland. Really bland. They are trying to sound like Aphex Twin but end up sounding like the music I expect to be played in Japanese lifts. Seriously this is why I gave up on James. Twenty years ago I would have bought this solely for the fact it had a James track on it and would have justified its uselessness by calling it ‘Experimental’. I don’t know why but this song has angered me so much but I have just punched a cuddly toy owl.

mp3 : James – Thursday Treatments

So that is ‘Nowhere’ I am half tempted to give the film a spin now but I have just read that it has Ryan Philippe in it, so know it will be waste of time, a man that is to acting what I am to flying helicopters – bizarrely it also has Gibby Haynes from the Butthole Surfers in it, still no reason to watch it though.

That was Number 18, on the list, what’s next guys…?

S-WC

FROM THE SOUTH-WEST CORRESPONDENT..WHAT’S IN YOUR BOX (20)

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cds-in-murfie-box

There is a tiny Scottish feeling to this weeks column.

Firstly, I have just read that every year more than 1000 people placed a bet this year that the football score East Fife 5 Forfar 4 will occur. This genuinely made my choke on my cereal. 5 -4 scorelines in football are rare – even rarer when two teams with names that sound slightly like the numbers play each other. If you ask me that is 1000 people with far too much time on their hands. Although I do imagine that if the scoreline does occur, the BBC would probably eat itself with excitement.

Secondly the CD of choice this week was from Octopus a band from Aberdeen who signed to Food Records (home of Blur and Jesus Jones) in the mid 90s.

They were a mid table indie band with a liking for big choruses. Sadly, when I put the CD in the machine it refused to play. Which is a shame because this is a belter of a record, I remember it well and always thought that it should have reached much higher in the charts than it did. When it came out, I had a guest reviewing the singles with me and after we listened to this, with its trumpet inspired chorus we had a small chat about the use of brass in singles and whether this was a good thing or not, we decided pretty much as long as they didn’t ruin the song it was ok (so you’d better but the bugle down down Mr Mumford). My guest reviewer loved this song (understandably) and described it memorably as ‘a brass blessed beauty rather than a trumpet troubled turd’. I gave him an extra pork pie for the wonder of his alliteration alone.

I’d loved to post this song but can’t post it, my only hope is that JC has it earmarked for his Scottish Single Series because your lives (well your ears at least) will be all the better for hearing it.

(JC adds…..I do have the track via one of those indie compilations that were all the rage in the Britpop era….and while S-WC is quick to sing its praises, I’m more inclined to say that it’s a very fine Oasis tribute.)

mp3 : Octopus – Your Smile

So instead of that I have done a random shuffle on my iPod (Classic 3rd Gen, 8830 songs) and will post the first three songs that come on. So first up we have: –

Oooh allow me a moment here ‘TUNE’ – ‘Arena’ – Suuns. Suuns are a Canadian band that sprang to our attention a few backs with their debut album ‘Zeroes QC’. This was to be was the standout track from that album. It has a kind of space rock feel to it as it whooshes along magically. ‘Zeroes QC’ comes highly recommended as well. They released a second album last year ‘Images du Futur’ which to be honest wasn’t as good.

mp3 : Suuns – Arena

Second song – my iPod is being kind to you all this morning ‘Coalition’ – Iceage.  Iceage, are a Danish punk band, and they rock like bastards. Fiercely independent and with a strong fan based ethic they have released two albums quite quietly in the last couple of years, the second ‘You’re Nothing’ was an absolute treasure of a record, it’s all done and dusted in about 35 minutes but it leaves you breathless, great shouty, simple, spiky punk rock. They also sing occasionally in Danish which is a rare treat. If you like Iceage (and you should) I recommend you check out Metz (another great Canadian band) and Radkey who do similar things in a shouty manner.

mp3 : Iceage – Coalition

Finally, aah lovely, ‘Aerial’ – Four Tet – this is taken from last years ‘Beautiful Rewind’ album. I’ve said before that I love Four Tet and think that the brains behind it Kieron Hebden is a genius (NME people if you are reading – here is a Godlike Genius you should celebrate don’t waste your time with Blondie, you fools). Four Tet make beautiful music, rarely do they release a bad record. If you check out their website there are also regularly loads of free downloads of mixtapes (one just last week, an hour of free dance music) and other bits and pieces. If you are not familiar with Four Tet, the best place to start is ‘Rounds’ that is an album that deserves to sit in anyones Top 50 ever. Radiohead fans should check out their remix of Skttrbrain’ too.

mp3 : Four Tet – Aerial

See you next week hopefully with a CD that plays!

JC adds again……
That’s the first time any of those four bands have appeared on this or the previous blog, so thanks again to S-WC for broadening mine and maybe some of your horizons. I have previously featured that Radiohead remix that was mentioned:

mp3 : Radiohead – Skttrbrain (Four Text Remix)

Enjoy!!

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